Record rise in child pornography cases via smartphones: NPA

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Record rise in child pornography cases via smartphones: NPAECPAT/STOP Japan

Police have detected a record 763 cases involving child pornography across Japan in the first half of 2013, while more children have been falling prey to pornography via smartphones, a National Police Agency (NPA) survey has shown.

According to the NPA survey, the number of child pornography cases — including production and transfer of such images — exposed by police across the country rose by 0.1 percent from a year earlier to 763 in the January-June period of 2013, while the number of victims under age 18 in those cases rose by 22 percent to 316. Both figures were record highs for the first half of the year since 2000, when police began taking the statistics.

The number of children under 18 who were reported to child consultation centers by police for suspected abuse by their parents or guardians also registered a record high at 10,061, up 38 percent from the same period last year, according to the NPA.

High school students were the primary targets of child pornography, with the number of victims standing at 132 (42 percent of all cases), followed by junior high school students at 124 (39 percent) and children of elementary school age or younger at 48 (15 percent). Among images and footage showing children of primary school age or younger, 29 children were forcibly touched — an act deemed as indecent assault — and another eight were exposed to violence.

Regarding how the victims contacted and sent images to suspects, 84 victims used smartphones (27 percent), outnumbering 76 who used conventional mobile phones (24 percent). Last year, the number of victims using smartphones accounted for only 10 percent of the entire 531 victims.

While the number of child pornography victims via dating sites is on the decline thanks to beefed-up crackdowns on those sites, a senior NPA official pointed out that, “There are many cases in which victims fall prey to crimes through unofficial bulletin boards and community sites where IDs for free call apps such as LINE are exchanged. Parents and guardians are urged to take heed.”

As for the child abuse issue, the number of psychological abuse cases reported by police to child consultation centers reached 5,670 in the January-June period of 2013, up 56 percent from a year earlier. Among them, the number of cases in which children witnessed domestic spousal violence reached 3,804. In some of those cases, spouses pointed a knife at their children who attempted to stop their violence.

There were 221 child abuse cases detected in the first half of 2013, down 11 percent from a year earlier, with 224 victims. Out of 157 children who were physically abused, 11 died. The number of child abuse deaths was an all-time low and on par with that in the first half of 2009.

There were 227 people who were charged with child abuse, down 11 percent from a year earlier. Among them, 33 percent were fathers of victims and 25 percent were mothers, followed by adoptive fathers and stepfathers at 18 percent and common-law husbands of victims’ mothers at 13 percent.

September 12, 2013(Mainichi Japan)

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